Four tea factories in Murang’a to benefit from hydro-electric power

The cost of production in four tea factories in Murang’a County is expected to go down after completion of a local hydro-power generation plant.

The power plant being constructed at northern part of Mathioya River was expected to generate 5.6 megawatts which would be supplied to Githambo, Kiru, Gatunguru and Kanyenyaini tea factories.

The electric power from the plant being constructed by Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) to the tune of Sh2.2 billion would help the factories stop using firewood in processing green leaf thus saving farmers millions of shillings.

The companies have been paying in total Sh44 million to Kenya Power Company annually for electricity consumed not counting other costs incurred in purchasing firewood.

On Saturday, Parliamentary Committee on Energy chaired by David Gikaria toured the plant and commended efforts made by the factories’ management aimed at reduction of cost of production.

The four factories have 70,000 small scale growers where each was deducted Sh2 per kilo of green leaf supplied to cater for buying firewood used in processing tea.

Gakaria said the initiative would not only help the factories to get cheap power but would also assist in increasing earnings for farmers.

The chairman said for a long period, tea factories have been relying on firewood in processing their green leaf noting that the four companies have set a good example to other factories to look for alternatives of accessing cheap power.

Other tea factories should look for alternative sources of energy besides wood fuel which is destructive to our environment, said Gikaria.

The project was initiated in June 2014 with an aim of reducing the operation cost in processing of tea thus maximizing the profits.

The project Engineer Patrick Ndumia said water abstracted from Mathioya River would run three turbines that would produce 5.6 megawatts.

He said that the project had earlier been faced with a challenge of land whereby some residents had denied them access adding that the project was initially anticipated to be complete by 2016 but it has delayed.

Ndumia noted the plant was expected to start generating power within a period of four months saying all machines have been installed.

KTDA regional board Member Mr. Francis Macharia said the four factories would only use one megawatts and the rest of the power would be connected to the national grid at a cost.

He said the factories would save at estimate Sh2.1 billion annually as the cost of production would be lowered following availability of the alternative source of energy.

Completion of the plant will be a milestone for the tea factories in Murang’a as farmers will reap more benefits. The project is the second project under KTDA in Kenya after one that was established in Meru County some years ago, Macharia explained.

Source: Kenya News Agency